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Apr 26, 2011 09:41 AM

Who is doing the best French Food in NY right now?

I am planning a birthday dinner for someone who is turning 50 and she loves French food (a big francophile). This would be for 4 people. She isn't from NY, so she hasn't been to most of the restaurants in Manhattan. I was thinking Balthazar, but who is doing French really well right now? I want something with a good atmosphere that is lively- was thinking Cafe Boulud perhaps. Price is really no object.


Cafe Boulud
20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021

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  1. Do you want a formal or casual venue, and do you want classic or modern French cuisine?

    5 Replies
    1. re: peter j

      Something more toward the casual side then the formal side, but not very casual- something like Balthazar's atmosphere. As far as classic or modern, ideally would want classic with a modern twist. Sorry for being insanely vague.

      1. re: offthebeatenpath1

        Some ideas:

        - Minetta Tavern (mostly meat and potatoes)

        - Millesime (seafood)

        - Raoul's

        - La Sillhouette (very good food, though not as trendy as Balthazar)

        - Benoit (classic brasserie, more sedate than Balthazar)

        - Brooklyn Fare (counter seating, mostly seafood with some Japanese influences, lively, BYOB. a brilliant tour de force as far as I'm concerned, in addition to its two Michelin stars the restaurant just received three stars from the New York Times today)

        Cafe Boulud isn't lively, especially compared to Balthazar, but does attract a crowd whose average age seems to be about fifty-ish. While jackets are not required, the ambience is somewhat formal.

        Minetta Tavern
        113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

        180 Prince St., New York, NY 10012

        60 West 55th Street, New York, NY 10019

        92 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016

        La Silhouette
        362 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019

        1. re: offthebeatenpath1

          Le Bistro d'a Cote
          La Mangeoire

          La Mangeoire
          1008 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10022

          1. re: gutsofsteel

            La Mangeoire doesn't qualify as having the best French food in NY right now. It doesn't even qualify as having above average any-kind-of-food right now. Besides, you'll have to suffer through bad suburb-of-a-small-French-town decor and service that's robotic by un-kempt waitstaff who appear to be thinking that they wish they could be somewhere else. A bad place for a milestone celebration as required by the OP.

            I'd heed the Minetta Tavern and La Silhouette suggestions. I'm not saying they're doing the best French in NYC right now, but they're more celebratory and the food and service are top notch.

            Minetta Tavern
            113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

            La Silhouette
            362 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019

            1. re: RCC

              While I wouldn't choose La Mangeoire for a celebratory meal, I strongly disagree with your opinion of the food, service, and decor. We've been there three times. The food each time was well-prepared and delicious; the waiters, who did not look in any way unkempt, provided friendly, efficient service; and we find the ambiance quite charming.

              La Mangeoire photos:


      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. Cafe Boulud would be an excellent choice for this celebratory occasion. While it is hardly as lively as Balthazar (which is insanely noisy when full), it is far from funereal. The menus offer a mix of classic French done in a modern style (La Tradition) and dishes with international influence, i.e., Le Voyage is currently featuring Mexican cuisine. Chef Gavin Kaysen is cooking some of the best food in the city right now, and we recently had two sensational dinners there.

          Cafe Boulud photos here:

          and here:

          1. In last three months had three perfect meals at Balthazar.

            1. French food covers a wide spectrum in New York. For a distinctively French menu in an obviously French setting, L'Absinthe.